Health Services Research

The Health Services Research Unit is interested in the organisation and delivery of health services and systems. We work to generate new knowledge to promote effectiveness, efficiency, equity and quality in health services, and to transfer this knowledge into improved policy and clinical practice. We undertake multi-disciplinary and mixed-methods research in collaboration with researchers, clinicians and industry within and beyond the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine.

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Head of Unit

Associate Professor Susannah Ahern


Professor Jane Banaszak-Holl
Associate Professor Anna Barker
Ms Renata Morello
Dr Darshini Ayton
Dr Sze-Ee Soh
Dr Tess Tsindos
Ms Catriona Parker
Ms Danielle Berkovic
Ms Amy Egan

Ms Cathie Hillman
Ms Emily Holt

PhD candidate
Ms Rebecca Morris

Honours student
Karlien Kok

Current projects and research

Medibank project: Improving the measurement of patient reported outcomes

 Funded by a research grant from Medibank Private, the aim of this project is to develop approaches to collect patient reported outcomes and integrate them with other clinical outcomes to provide comprehensive measures of excellence in care delivery. Implementation of patient reported outcomes in clinical quality registries has great potential to improve quality of care and clinical effectiveness through benchmarking and informing patients, clinicians, policy makers and funders.

For more information about the Medibank Project, please call Dr Darshini Ayton on +61 3 9903 1660.

RESPOND Project: Secondary falls prevention in older people presenting to the emergency department with a fall: a multi-centre randomised controlled trial of efficacy, cost-effectiveness and acceptability of the RESPOND program

 Funded by the NHMRC, this multi-centre randomised controlled trial aims to test the RESPOND program – an innovative post-ED discharge program designed to reduce secondary falls in older people. The aim of the RESPOND program is to connect patients with proven falls-prevention strategies and improve patient’s knowledge and ability to navigate the complex healthcare system by incorporating patient-centred education with behaviour change strategies. For further details about the RESPOND Project, please find links to the published protocol papers below.

RESPOND – a patient-centred programme to prevent secondary falls in older people presenting to the emergency department with a fall: protocol for a multicentre randomised controlled trial

RESPOND: a patient-centred programme to prevent secondary falls in older people presenting to the emergency department with a fall – protocol for a mixed methods programme evaluation

RESPOND: a programme to prevent secondary falls in older people presenting to the emergency department with a fall: protocol for an economic evaluation

For more information about the RESPOND Project, please call Dr Darshini Ayton on +61 3 9903 0402.

ASPREE-Fracture sub-study: Does daily low-dose aspirin reduce fracture risk in healthy older adults?

 ASPREE is a NIH/NHMRC funded US/Australian double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled primary prevention trial designed to assess whether daily active treatment using low-dose aspirin extends the duration of disability-free and dementia-free life in 19,000 people aged ≥70 years. In 2013, additional NHMRC funding was received to undertake a sub-study to extend the ASPREE trial data collection to investigate the effect of aspirin on fracture risk and the underlying mechanisms of any risk reduction observed.

For more information about the ASPREE-Fracture sub-study, please call Catriona Parker on +61 3 9903 0377.

Medibank partnership

 We work in partnership with Medibank Private to provide consultancy services for evaluations using a variety of approaches. For more information about evaluation consultancy, please call Dr Renata Morello on +61 3 9903 0923.

Dementia and Delirium Care with Volunteers Pre-implementation Project

 Funded by the Mason Foundation this pre-implementations study is examining the barriers and enablers to implementing the Dementia and Delirium Care with Volunteers (DDCV) Program at Alfred Health. The DDCV program provides one-on-one emotional and psychosocial support to patients with dementia and/or delirium, or patients who are at risk of delirium. This project will develop a tailored implementation plan for Alfred Health using insights gained from nurses, allied health, clinicians, senior hospital staff, patients and caregivers.

For further information on this project, please contact Dr Darshini Ayton on +61 3 9903 1660 or

Youth Mentoring Project

Crossway Life Care has commissioned an evaluation of the Youth COACH program. COACH stands for Creating Opportunities and Casting Hope. The COACH mentoring programs work with three groups of people: families, young people and children. The Youth COACH program aims to see young people (aged 12-16 years) flourish educationally, socially, emotionally, physically and spiritually. The program works with young people vulnerable to educational breakdown, mental health issues and/or family violence. The program is community based and takes place outside of school hours. Information gained from this evaluation will provide Crossway Life Care with evidence of program impacts, key drivers of successful implementation and guidance in the development of program upscaling. The findings will have a significant impact on the implementation of Youth COACH in Australia.

Falls prevention: The missing element in osteoarthritis care

 Funded by an Arthritis Australia and State/Territory Affiliate Grant, the aim of this project is to identify falls risk factors specific to people with hip and knee osteoarthritis, understand current osteoarthritis clinical practice in relation to falls prevention, and explore barriers and enablers to participation in falls prevention activities. This project will also develop key recommendations and clinician and consumer resources for falls risk assessment and falls prevention in osteoarthritis. Please see the link below regarding the potential to develop cross-disciplinary care partnerships in the area of falls prevention and osteoarthritis management.

Opportunities for cross-disciplinary care partnerships in physiotherapy

For more information about this project, please contact Dr Sze-Ee Soh on +61 3 9904 4122.

See our past projects and research here


We host students undertaking Honours and undergraduate research placements for Health Science, Biomedical Science, and Medicine students.

If you are interested in undertaking a project with us contact Dr Darshini Ayton on +61 3 9903 1660.

Translation into policy and practice

Translation activities in the unit include knowledge exchange activities with clinicians and policy makers. Examples of such activities include producing Policy Briefs that summarise research findings for policy-maker audiences, running seminars and workshops to update clinicians on the latest evidence-informed practice, and participating in national advisory committees.

Workshop topics include:

  • Patient-reported Outcome Measures (PROMs): What makes a good PROM, why are they important and how are they being used?
  • Optimising exercise programs for older people to improve balance and prevent falls
  • Be your best: Promoting health and preventing falls in older adults
  • Pilates exercise to improve balance and reduce falls in older people: A research update

Read more about our workshops here